Ballarat at Home: Restoring a Victorian era terrace

STEVE Millard was living at 27 Victoria Avenue when he joked to his wife Jo that he'd have to buy the neighbouring terrace house Lumeah if it ever came on the market. 

"I'd heard of people trying to buy it before with little luck, so I made the joke fairly comfortably thinking the day would never come," he said.

"But when it did go on the market I had to stick to my word and buy it."

Mr Millard said Lumeah was in perfect structural condition, a testament to its quality of construction, but had been neglected with no one living there for about 30 years. 

The Millards spent six months getting the 1889 Abram Crawford Esquire house to a habitable state with water and sewerage before moving over from next door. 

During their restoration, they came across many interesting things.

"There were old newspapers from 1914 scrunched up in balls behind things, and bits of hairclips and other pieces," Jo Millard said.

"We don't want to lose anything we had found because it's all part of the story."

The Millards have transformed the doors to the old stable out the back into a feature in the garden, and cleaned up and framed old bathroom tiles they discovered.

The house mainly follows its original floor plan, with one bedroom turned into a main bathroom, and a linen closet reduced to make an en suite. 

"We refrained from knocking down walls to make it open plan," Ms Millard said. 

The front rooms are mirrored, with a drawing room and lounge room, with the kitchen and dining room at the back of the house. 

"If we had have made it open plan, the front rooms would have been museum pieces we wouldn't have used, and we wanted to use the whole house."

They've ensured it functions as a modern house, with the butler's pantry now adjoining the kitchen and the laundry where the original butler's pantry was and the maid's room is a study and breakfast area. 

"It now has all the modern niceties while keeping its Victorian feel." 

"It now has all the modern niceties while keeping its Victorian feel"

The couple have shared ideas with the other new owners of the terrace homes next door. Mr Millard said if all three terrace homes were combined, there might have been one intact original house with all the features. 

Ms Millard said the grand five metre ceilings were fitting with the Victorian era making a grand statement. 

"But the ceiling size actually reduces on your way to the back of the house," she said. 

"There aren't cornices towards the back of the house, the Victorian era was all about impressions."

With family in Adelaide who they regularly visit, the Millards have ensured the garden is low maintenance.

"We wanted it to be a house we could 'lock up and leave'," Mr Millard said. 

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